From falling down a hole, literally, to developing a mobile game with William Trubridge: GameStarter’s story

  • Games
  • May 19, 2015
  • Holly Bagge
From falling down a hole, literally, to developing a mobile game with William Trubridge: GameStarter’s story

Sometimes people find inspiration in the strangest ways, for GameStarter’s founder it was by falling down a 9-metre hole in Beijing which inspired him to create a free-falling mobile game. Now the young company has teamed up with free-diving champion William Trubridge to create a new game inspired by the urge to raise awareness about the dwindling population of Maui’s dolphin.

GameStarter is a team of eight situated at Creative HQ in Wellington which focus on crowdsourced game development, and was born late last year after beginning development for mobile game Plummet Free Fall. The game was based on an unfortunate, yet ultimately enlightening experience the company’s founder Mark Major had where he fell down a hole in Beijing and broke his back, according to the Herald.

Because Major couldn’t code or draw, he decided he would crowdsource the design and development, “Then I took it one step further and got players to make my decisions for how the game would play out; I used social media to get end users to determine the best design and gameplay. The end result was Plummet Free Fall, which has now been downloaded 350,000 times and was number one on iTunes in four countries, including New Zealand,” he says.

The current game, called Plunge Free Dive is a repeat of the Plummet process but on a larger scale, he says.

Creative HQ comms and marketing manager Nicola Mitchell says the GameStarter team approached Trubridge out of the blue through his website with knowledge of Trubridge’s advocacy for Maui's dolphin cause, of which there are only 55 remaining in the world.

“He then worked with agents APEX Sport Agency over a few weeks to determine how a game would benefit both parties. Then William and Mark Skyped and emailed to determine the best way for the game to work in order to show real life freediving mechanics. Mark says he knew the partnership would work well, when in one of his first emails William sent him a link to a hilarious free diving game called Johnny Deep.”

According to the crowdfunding page on PledgeMe the game is based on the lead up to 2010 when Trubridge set the world record, freediving 101 metres, unassisted by fins or flippers on a single breath for Project Hector, bringing the plight of the Hector’s and Maui’s dolphin to the attention of the world.  

The player trains to become the world freediving champion:

“Gameplay is inspired by real exercises and bodily considerations that William Trubridge undergoes while free-diving. Monitor heart-rate control, undertaking breathing exercises, and from time to time, you too can save the day by rescuing Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins from gillnets,” the PledgeMe page says. “We want the player to experience Trubridge’s love for the water and its creatures, helping to raise awareness for an important issue while they do so. More people play and pay for games than any other form of entertainment, which makes them an ideal platform for pushing real world experiences and causes.”

The GameStarter team hope to raise $10,000. At the time of writing there are 67 pledgers and they have raised $5,585 after launching on 7 May with 19 days left.

The PledgeMe page says money raised will be used to cover the six to eight weeks worth of development, marketing and business costs, music for the game and campaign-related costs to produce Plunge for a mobile-friendly environment. The team hope to release the game in July this year.

Major says the vision with the GameStarter business is to create a free platform  that combines game creators and players together to validate game concepts and collaborate to turn the top concepts into games.

“We are working hard with early signups to determine the best model to make this happen.”

He says this could be through incentivised competitions, giving the example of Threadless and 99designs, or more like social development companies, like quirky.com.

“I really see crowdsourcing as the future model for people whom want to turn ideas into creations, with crowdfunding a crucial element of the process as it shows if said creations are commercially viable.”

Major says GameStarter has two other games it’s currently working on, based on other APEX athletes Ellen Brennan and Alise Post. And “…like any startup we have also been doing service jobs to keep maintain cash flow. With our latest job being a health and safety game for sitesorted.co.nz

According to the Department of Conservation Maui’s dolphin, which is a subspecies of Hector’s dolphin are the world’s smallest dolphins in the world and can only be found on the West Coast of the North Island.

Last year the government announced 15 new drilling permits that included permits in the Maui’s Marine Mammal Sanctuary.

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